“You couldn’t help but play better when you were on stage with him. He made you sound better.” 

That’s the tribute musician Gary Pearson gives to Mike Stroehle, one of the other members of the Quad-City band The Night People. Stroehle passed away recently after he became sick with a disease that caused his muscles to atrophy and made him unable to play.

Pearson and fellow Night People member Rob Dahms were getting ready for a performance when they heard Stroehle had an accident.

“We got a call that Mike had fallen down steps and they had to fly him up to Iowa City, and it didn’t look good. It was pretty tough to play that night,” Pearson said.

The Night People have been playing for almost 60 years together. Pearson and Dahms have a hard time remembering a time when they weren’t together.

“We enjoyed playing together,” Pearson said. “Like I said we grew up together. We rehearsed constantly. I mean when we were at The Draught House, we would work all of the singing parts up in the bathroom because of the echo.

“Every waking moment we were together we were always together playing.” 

Both Pearson and Dahms say Stroehle was one-of-a-kind and had many talents.

“He was so good at everything he did: Building PA systems, race cars, everything,” Dahms said. “He built a steel guitar out of a little Hawaiian guitar and he built it out of wood and bicycle cables.” 

The band members just loved playing together. Both Pearson and Dahms said Stroehle had one of the best ears for music.

“He was like a prodigy, I think,” Dahms said. “We would be playing some place and after a song he would yell over across the stage and say ‘Hey, your A string is flat’ or ‘Your B string is sharp.’ Then we would be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I guess so.’

“He could hear those things through the whole set of the drums and everything. He could just pick it up.”